Writing to Live

And on the day after I declare my intention to make a living as a writer… I drive down to my son’s college, to help him move into his fraternity.

Writing is a big part of my life, and if all goes according to plan that portion will grow substantially larger in the coming year. But just as I’ve refused to define who I am by whatever job I currently worked, I’m not about to let my new profession interfere with other priorities. And there’s nothing I value more than my family.

Thoughts at the Base of the Mountain

After forty years of preparation, I’m finally walking towards my primary ambition in life.

I’ve known since my teens that writing is the only job I’ve ever wanted to do. That last sentence intentionally included the word job, because my ambition has never been simply to write. Any clown can create a WordPress account and start posting within a day, and for the past several years I’ve done little more than clown around at writing on this blog. I harbor no regrets, and I’m glad for the wonderful people I’ve met during this time — but all that effort has never been fully satisfying. I want to work at writing, make a profession of this craft, make a living at this gig.

Why work, when I’ve been having a pretty good time so far? Lemme tell you a story…

A few years ago, a former coworker developed a software application. Knowing that I was an adept technical writer, he hired me to write the app’s user manual. Within a few hours after installing and using his application, I realized it probably didn’t have much of a future — I think he sold six licenses before abandoning the project — but I had already signed a contract to write the manual, so there was no going back. One Saturday afternoon in June (the month is important), I swallowed a bowl of mac and cheese for lunch around 1, then fired up my friend’s app and a word processor. I began exploring the app’s features, and making notes on my observations. After a while, I had an outline for the manual; material for the introduction came to me suddenly, and I banged out a page and half of text with a couple screen shots. I continued exploring the apps, and after finding a series of bugs I opened a second document to record those issues. I then created the first draft of the setup instructions, reminding myself to add items to the FAQ… when I realized my back was stiff, and I was hungry. For the first time since I started working that afternoon, I then looked up at the clock.

Eight. Thirty. Six.

With the length of the summer day, I had completely lost track of time. I had been writing, without a break, for over seven hours. I was tired, hungry, and sore from my work that afternoon… but at that moment, after finally coming up for air, I didn’t mind. Because I was having fun. And I realized that exhaustive exhilaration I was feeling had been my aspiration for nearly four decades. To commit heart, body, mind, soul into my writing, and at the end produce a work that not only pleases me intellectually and aesthetically, but also sustains my material needs. To make this sucker pay. It was a spiritually invigorating experience, a brief but shining moment when I felt complete and satisfied.

That marvelous feeling didn’t linger, as my attention turned immediately to dinner, and then in the coming days to completing a user manual that few would read and none appreciate, as well as the productive drudgery of my “real” job. I found new ways to keep myself from pursuing that destiny (and in subsequent posts, I plan to explore each of the barriers I’ve erected to keep me in place). But there was no forgetting that Saturday afternoon in June, and that memory has led me to this moment, staring up from the base of a very tall mountain.

This journey that begins today isn’t going to be easy; people far more talented and bold than I have failed in this profession. I have no idea how long it will take me to reach the summit, little concept of the difficulties I’ll encounter along the way, few clues as to the pain and frustration that lie ahead.

Yet I’ve never been this certain about any other decision. The ambition that awoke in my teen years, and was realized briefly on that incredible Saturday afternoon in June — to work the only job I’ve ever desired, to make a living as a writer — the climb begins today.

This blog has evolved several times over the years, and this post marks another transition. There will be fewer extended series of fiction, and much more content similar to today’s, as I chronicle my career as a professional writer. Words such as I and me will appear far more frequently; whether that’s possible without degenerating into self-indulgence remains to be seen, and is one of several challenges I plan to conquer. As always, I appreciate your support for this blog, and hope you remain curious enough to follow my new adventure.

Taking a Break

So much for not being a stranger

The rough draft of chapter 8 was completed on time (final post was on April 30) and right on budget (just over 20K words). Not entirely happy with the result (that last post was particularly disappointing), but I knew when I started on April 1 that this wasn’t going to end with a finished product. But that’s fine — what matters to me is “winning” the CampNaNoWriMo challenge for April, and more importantly, producing an item that I can craft into a more polished document for this year’s NaNoWriMo event.

As I do at the end of each of these events, I felt satisfied yet enervated at the conclusion. Decided to step away from blogging for a while, until my energy and enthusiasm return. Which it most definitely will, perhaps soon — I’m contemplating a return to The Chosen, the sword and sorcery project I started on a lark and wound up enjoying considerably.

But for now, a little more rest, then get back to indulging my enjoyable obsession.

Update on Chapter 8

We’re half-way into the month of April, and the eighth chapter of Gray Metal Faces is progressing well. The goal was to draft 20K words, over ten scenes, and on Thursday I both finished the fifth scene and passed 10K words, putting me a couple days ahead of schedule. Not bad, especially considering that it’s only been about a month since I’ve given serious thought to the chapter.

As I mentioned previously, I’m drafting my remaining work on the novel on a private site (and yes, I will at some point explain why I’m doing this), but am inviting all followers of this blog the opportunity to read that work. Just like this post, or leave a comment, and if you haven’t already been added as a reader, I’ll give you access.

Adorkable

adjective | adork-able | \ə-ˈdȯrk-ə-bəl\

1: charming and nerdy <an adorkable movie>

2: a quality that can only be appreciated by a nerd <your t-shirt is simply adorkable>

– adorkably \-blē\ adverb

Rest Ye

This day has many potential meanings, and I’m gonna try to touch on most of them.

For those who choose this day to celebrate the birth of their religion’s savior king, may you touch the divine spirit and discover a peace that surpasses all understanding. And for those who prefer celebrating the pagan traditions that lie at the root of this holiday, may this be a day of comfort and joy.

For those who revel in the consumerism of this day, please relish in today’s excess. And for those who find the day a little too much to handle, may you find some quiet time and the rest you deserve.

For those whose families you are visiting or being visited by, may you set aside your differences and abide in the l0ve you share. And for those without families, may you create your own family through friendships that create bonds stronger than anything forged through biology.

If you’re working today, may your schedule open later in the week for rest. And if you’re not working today, please tip generously.

The Best De-Fence

After sharing a view that included the front of my shed yesterday, thought I’d show you the back today.

Skunks, raccoons, and other varmints love to nest under structures without basements, so as soon as the shed was built I installed a chicken wire fence as protection. Used a staple gun to attach it to the base, then extended it out a couple feet and secured it to the ground with landscape staples. Haven’t had any unwelcome visitors in all the years since. Over the summer I saw a break in the fence, so this fall I did some mending. Had some snow the past few days, so this morning I went out to the back and checked for tracks. Didn’t see any (the spots on the left were caused by dripping from the roof), so it appears I’m safe for another season.

The best defense is usually a good offense, but sometimes all you need is de-fence.

Winter Quiet

All I’m doing today is showing the view onto my back yard this morning. Because sometimes you just have to share a peaceful moment without trying to say something brilliant.img_1616

An Old Recipe 6

“Mom, I’m sorry.” As he spoke, Butch focused on the bruise under her eye. “I shouldn’t have upset Father like that.”

He had never seen her stepmother look so uncertain. Finally, she shook her head — “Butch, you don’t need to apologize, you did nothing wrong.” She handed him the makeshift icepack. “Put this on your shoulder.”

The feel of the cool plastic surface made Butch realize how much pain he was suffering. He swung his legs over the bed, let them dangle next to his mother’s. “Thanks.”

“I thought he was cleansed.” Faith was looking down absently at the floor. “The demon inside him — the one that had been tormenting him since your mother — ” her head jerked up, face towards Butch — “Polly, ever since she was — ” she paused, a horrified look emerging on her face like an oil slick seeping on to a placid lake surface — “when she died. No man should suffer like your father did, no man. He’s a good man, Butch, and he’s prayed to the Lord for help, he wants to be whole again. He just needs . . . ” Her voice seemed to evaporate.

Butch shifted the ice pack, cragluh, from his shoulder to his chest. “Should we pray with him?”

“I have.” Her eyes resparkled. “I do pray with him, Butch. And the Lord is good, He will heal your father.” The teen noticed the bruise under her eye was darkening. “But your father is not a patient man. He wants to be healed now, and when he feels the demon’s torments again — ”

She sniffed, rubbed the back of her right hand under her slender nose, pushed a strand of her curly brown hair off her face. “I was wrong. The demon, is still too strong.”